I-81 Challenge expected to release public input findings next month

— Mario Colone, program manager for the I-81 Challenge, says the project is on track and he expects to present conceptual designs to the public for additional input this winter.

But Colone said a F.O.C.U.S. Greater Syracuse meeting scheduled for Friday, Aug. 19, would not include any announcements, design drafts or big updates.

“It will be more of an update on what has already occurred,” Colone said. “At this juncture, we’re still in the process of summarizing the ample input and comments that we received from the public.”

In May, SMTC held three public input sessions to gather ideas and hear the concerns of the public on the future of I-81.

As portions of the highway, particularly elevated sections in downtown Syracuse, nearing the end of their lifespan, they will require some attention over the next decade — whether they’re replaced, reconstructed or removed.

Colone said the SMTC is still wading through the input those workshops garnered, but a summary of the input should be released “most likely in September.”

When it is available, that summary will be posted online at thei81challenge.org, where community members can already learn more about the project and take a “virtual public workshop” if they weren’t able to attend a May meeting, Colone said.

What comes next?

“The next step, as far as more full-blown public engagement opportunity for this project, will be going back out to the public around wintertime, presenting some conceptual options and looking for additional comment for the public,” Colone said.

The F.O.C.U.S. meeting is set for 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. Friday, Aug. 19 at City Hall Commons, 201 E. Washington St. and is open to the public. F.O.C.U.S. will host Colone and SMTC Principal Transportation Planner Meghan Vitale for an interim report on the project.

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